Indie Music

90% Of Independent Venues May Shutdown In 2020

A recent grim report from the National Independent Venue Association confirms many industry fears about the future of independent venues that, without some form of government intervention, a majority of these sites could face permanent closure in 2020.

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

A new report from the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) reinforces the urgent need for government intervention to help save our favorite music concert venues.

While talking heads continue to debate the severity of COVID-19 and states start reopening various businesses, live music largely remains at a standstill. A few states are allowing performances, including Florida and Texas, but nobody is touring, and all venues are operating at a reduced capacity to meet social distancing guidelines. Not a single music professional can confidently say when live music as we know it will return. That uncertainty is putting the vast majority of independent venues at risk of closing before the year ends.

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), which represents 2,000 members in all 50 states, found that 90% of its members say they will be forced to cease operations permanently if the shutdown lasts six months or longer, and there’s no federal support provided.

For the record, as of this week, the US is already three months into its lockdown period.

NIVA was formed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which forced venues everywhere to cease operations overnight. Thousands of events were canceled or postponed and staffs were laid off, but the fixed costs of operating venues (such as rent) continue.

NIVA is calling on Congress to adjust the existing Paycheck Protection Program so that it caters to the needs of independent venues. Specifically, the NIVA is seeking the equivalent of six months’ worth of payroll, benefits, and fixed operating costs such as rent/mortgage, utilities, taxes, and insurance that still need to be covered, even when venues are not permitted to be open.

The organization is also asking Congress for loan forgiveness and tax credits specifically related to ticket refunds, employee retention, and safe workplace initiatives, as well as the expansion of the PPP to cover salary and insurance benefits for part-time employees, which make up a large percentage of venue staff.

A bi-partisan group of 150 members of Congress recently sent letters to Senate and House leaders expressing their support for NIVA’s requests.

Readers can do their part in supporting NIVA and its members by visiting the organization’s Take Action page. With a few clicks, anyone can easily send a message to our leaders in Washington DC demanding assistance.

Just a few NIVA members:

  • 9:30 Club in D.C.
  • First Avenue in Minneapolis
  • Chicago Independent Venue League
  • World Cafe Live in Philadelphia
  • Pabst Theater Group in Milwaukee
  • Red River Cultural District in Austin
  • Exit/In in Nashville.

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